R.E.M – ” Monster ” 25th Anniversary Box Set 5CD/1BD

Posted: September 5, 2019 in ALBUMS, MUSIC
Tags: , , , , ,

Craft Recordings has announced a Monster of a celebration for the 25th anniversary of R.E.M.’s ninth album. November 1st will see the arrival of “Monster” in various physical and digital formats, all newly remastered by Greg Calbi at Sterling Sound.

Monster found the band branching out to explore new sonic avenues, with bolder, louder guitars, minimal overdubs, and spare arrangements supporting lyrics frequently sung from the POV of different characters. Bolstered by the success of the lead single “What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?,” Monster entered the U.S. chart at No. 1, and the band promoted it with their first tour since 1989. “Bang and Blame” also became a U.S. top 20 chart entry, the band’s final such single to date.

After R.E.M.‘s departure from indie-adored IRS Records for the larger filed of Warner Brothers Records, the fear was that the band would be manipulated into producing more radio friendly hits. And while R.E.M. managed to do that, it was not at the cost of their fine lyrical and musical frontier. By the arrival of MonsterR.E.M. had further established themselves as a powerhouse of a band with multi-Platinum successes like Green (1988), Out of Time (1991), and the legendary Automatic for The People (1992).

Monster, released in 1994, delivered the hit single “What’s The Frequency, Kenneth?”, as well as other more minor hits. Monster would also become the album that started an alienation from the more casual fans. All R.E.M. albums after Monster (there would be six more) were much less popular (although I never understood why).

In his liner notes, Perpetua offers that Monster “had no precedent in the band’s catalogue,” adding that R.E.M had “never been this distorted and dirty, or this glam or this flirty.” Peter Buck adds, “We were trying to feel like a different band…We wanted to get away from who we were.” Perpetua observes that “there’s no question that the characters on Monster are all dealing with obsession in some form or another, whether it’s the infatuated narrator of ‘Crush with Eyeliner,’ the lovelorn protagonist of ‘Strange Currencies,’ or the cackling supervillain in ‘I Took Your Name.’” As dark as some of the subject matter is, though, R.E.M. still infuses the songs with a dash of absurdity, irony and a humorous wink.”

Despite the enormous success of the 4x platinum album, producer Scott Litt was never fully happy with his finished mix. He states in the press release, “I had told the band through the years that if there was ever a chance to take another shot at mixing the album, I wanted to do it.” This anniversary edition has given him that opportunity, and he’s incorporated entirely different vocal takes and instrumental parts either buried in the original mix or completely absent from it.

On November 1st 2019, Craft Recordings will celebrate the album’s 25th Anniversary with a definitive 5CD/1BD Box that provides not only a newly remastered version of Monster but also a new Scott Litt-remixed version that sonically brings Stipe’s vocals to the front. The box will also include a collection of 15 previously unreleased demos, and the full 25-song performance from their June 3rd, 1995 show at the Rosemont Horizon in Chicago that was opened by Luscious Jackson, spread over 2CDs. The Scott Litt-remixed album will be on a CD of its own. The Blu-ray will supply a high resolution Stereo version mix as well as a 5.1 Surround mix. The Road Movie film is included as are six music videos (“What’s The Frequency, Kenneth?”, “Crush With Eyeliner”, “Star 69”, “Strange Currencies”, “Tongue”, “Bang and Blame”). A stuffed book of notes, photos, interviews, and more is included.

For those interested in a less expansive option, an expanded edition of Monster offering the original album and the 2019 remix will also be available on two 180-gram vinyl LPs or two CDs, both featuring reimagined cover art by longtime R.E.M. designer Chris Bilheimer. The remastered album will also be available as a standalone 180-gram vinyl LP, with Bilheimer’s original Monster art.

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